Podium steps / Podium tower / Podium ladder
Podium steps are often also known as podium towers or podium steps. The majority of these forms of access are made from aluminium and are used in construction or DIY situations.
They come in various forms and styles but basically consist of a robust aluminium frame with steps up to an elevated small working platform. The main difference between step ladders and podium ladders are that they will have proper guard rails wrapped around the working platform.
This makes them a safer alternative to using step ladders for longer duration works where you need to use both hands to carry out tasks. They are a much more stable alternative.
Podium variations can come in hinged foldable types that can be collapsed and folded up to enable them to be moved through doorways. The other types just dismantle into smaller components to be relocated. Both types can be dismantled and re-erected very quickly.
Working ladder with platform
Podium steps in their various forms are often also described as a working ladder with a platform. They still consist of a robust aluminium frame, tread steps, a working platform and additional guardrails. They essentially are the same thing as is described above.
How often should podium steps be inspected?
Inspection regimes for podium steps differ from being in a construction environment and a domestic environment. As you would imagine, in a construction environment, certain access equipment that needs to be dismantled and re-erected will need to be carried out by a PASMA trained operative. This is to ensure that anyone using it is safe as it’s been assembled by a ‘competent’ person.
Where podium steps or platforms are being used in a domestic environment, the PASMA trained competent operative will not essentially be there as there is no requirement for this. Just because there is no requirement, it doesn’t mean that a few basic skills cannot be used to ensure your safety when they are being used.
As with all ladder access equipment, the essential thing is to demonstrate some good basic discipline and inspect your equipment before every use. This is to ensure that all the necessary individual components are there and to ensure that there are no damaged parts that could cause the access equipment not to operate as it should.
These could be safety locking mechanisms for legs or handrails for example. It is also essential to erect any podium to the manufacturers guidelines.
Can podium steps topple over?
As with aluminium scaffold tower scaffolds, aluminium podium steps can topple over if not used correctly. They are however one of the most stable forms of stepped ladder access you can get.
They can however, if not assembled correctly or the user over reaches with a heavy load outside of the podium’s footprint, could cause instability. In general, they are used for access and not lifting loads.
Some types of podium access platforms have foldable stabiliser legs. They fold away for ease of moving, transportation and storage.
When opened up and very importantly locked into their final position, they increase the podiums footprint drastically reducing the chances of a topple. Usually, the stabiliser legged variations have higher platforms so need a bigger footprint.
Aluminium step ladder or podium steps?
The decision to use aluminium steps or podium steps with platforms hinge on a few questions. These namely will be the task at hand, the task duration and the frequency of the task location changes.
The task characteristics would be if you need both hands for any length of time to complete the task. The task duration will also have an impact as the longer a task lasts at height, the more chance there is for something to go wrong if the equipment being used isn’t ideal.
Also think about the amount of times you will need to climb, descend and move the access equipment. The more times you go up and down a ladder, the more the chance of an accident increases.
With podiums and platforms, because they have a bigger work area, the amount of times you need to relocate is reduced. This also makes it much safer allowing both hands to be free and the task duration longer as you can lean into guard rails to steady yourself.
Podium step safety classifications
Podiums steps and platforms mostly conform to something called PAS250. This has now been superseded by BS8620. This is not to say that a PAS250 podium is unsafe, it just means the testing regime and standards have changed slightly.
These relate to some dimensional changes to handrail protection and even more robust testing.
In reality, a PAS250 access system does not need to be swapped for a BS8620 in a domestic situation. They are both robust enough for most people and tasks.
Podium scaffold mobility
Most, if not all podium type access platforms come with wheels for ease of relocation. They will also have a stepped lever type brake on them to lock the wheels from moving whilst in use.
Some types have what is called ‘anti surf’ wheels which prevent the podium being pushed or ‘surfed’ along while someone is on the platform, This obviously can be quite dangerous, especially if a wheel hit a stone for example and topples over. The example here on the left is a podium currently on my site which doesn’t have wheels.
Podium tower choices
Below, we’ve found some of the better examples of podium towers and their different variations for you.
Henry’s Professional Podium Step
What we like:
Comes in 3 sizes/heights
All models have 2 platform heights
What could be better:
Difficult to find any draw backs!
This heavy duty podium complies to PAS250 and is also compact and very simple to fully assemble. It’s also manufactured in Britain. Its simple design means that it only has two removable parts which are the working platform deck and the access ladder.
The working platform has ‘saloon’ style gates that make initial access onto the platform easy. All models have two platform heights for extra reach if needed and have anti surf wheels as standard for additional safety. It also folds up into a really compact space which makes transportation and storage really easy.
Three height options are available. With the two platform height design, the entry level podium has a working platform height of 0.73m – 0.98m. The middle podium has a working platform height of 0.98m – 1.22m and the largest has a working platform height of 1.2m – 1.48m.
Adding an average persons shoulder height of approximately 1.7m to the working platform height, this will give a comfortable height for carrying out your task with the added security of a guardrail.
TB Davies Raptor Heavy Duty Podium Step Ladder
What we like:
Comes in 2, 3 and 5 tread heights
Lightweight and very portable
150Kg load capacity
What could be better:
Platform size is specific for task
We thought that we’d like to offer this variation up. It is specific and only two feet can be placed on the working platform but for specific localised tasks, it’s very lightweight, portable and give 360 degree protection.
It’s open frame type design means that it can easily be negotiated over obstacles. The additional raking stabiliser legs are a nice feature along with its attached wheels for easy re-location to a new work area.
The main treads are 80mm deep so they won’t pinch into the bottom of your feet when climbing. The 400mm x 500mm main platform has a small toe board which is a nice touch and the platform is also slip resistant.
Another nice touch is the tool and materials holder on the top rail.
Telescopic 5m ‘A’ Frame Ladder with Stabiliser
Telescopic podium steps
What we like:
Telescopic height adjusting legs
Can be used on stairs or steps
What could be better:
Brilliant but is more expensive
Our final offering is this 5m tread height adjusting telescopic platform ladder. Its ingenious design incorporating telescopic legs means that it can have its overall height adjusted but cleverly, it can have one of its frame legs retracted so it can be used on steps or stairs keeping the platform level.
The multi purpose ladder is made from high quality stainless steel which makes it strong, safe and very durable. This strength means it can bear up to 150kg. Its clever design also means telescopic ladder can be folded to save space and is easy to carry and use.
The unit also folds easily for transportation in a vehicle or preferably on a roof rack. Its twin stabilisers also provide reassuring stability. It is more expensive but it maybe the only working ladder platform you’ll need to feel safe.